Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Ungifted

Korman, Gordon (Author)
Scholastic Canada 2014. 264 pages
First published: 2012
ISBN: 9781443133494 (paperback)
9781443119788 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

character, characterization, point of view, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Middle-schooler Donovan Curtis has always been more of a terrible warning than a good example—he’s been voted “Most Likely to Wind up in Jail” two years running—but his latest stunt outdoes even his usual standards of mischief, causing thousands of dollars of damage to the school gym. Because of an administrative error, instead of being punished, he gets promoted—to the Academy for Scholastic Distinction. Donnie doesn’t have the chops for the gifted program—he’s “so far below them intellectually that (he) needed a telescope to see the soles of their shoes.” Despite working hard, he never reaches the Academy’s standards. But his street-smart contributions to the robotics team earn him the respect and friendship of his new classmates. When the mistake is ultimately discovered, those on both ends of the nerd scale come to see that there is more to belonging and contribution than what is determined by standardized testing.

The narrative includes the first-person perspectives of various characters, predominantly Donovan, but also his friends (the “Daniels”), peers and teachers. Each voice is well developed and accessible, but Donnie’s is particularly wry and engaging: when the Daniels describe scrawny Noah’s wrestling move gone wrong, with every retelling, “he got bigger and meaner, and trained by a more secret paramilitary organization.” The novel also subtly addresses teaching to or above expectations: when Donovan returns to his regular classes, he is surprised to find that he has become an A student.

  •  

    Like Donovan, research your own family ancestry and make a family tree. Prepare a short presentation of your findings and include interesting family trivia.

  •  

    Imagine that students were grouped according to intelligence (Class 1 = A students, Class 2 = B students, etc.). In a small group, discuss the pros and cons of this set-up. Write a persuasive text for your personal stance.

  •  

    Write three school rules that you do not like and explain why. Why were they implemented? How could you improve them? In a group, write three short skits to present your enhanced version of these rules.

  •  

    Cite examples of how the words gifted and ungifted apply to Chloe and Donovan. In small groups, discuss your findings. Draw head silhouettes of a girl and a boy, noting how they are gifted on one side and how they are ungifted on the other.

  •  

    Before reading, watch a teacher-selected video clip of robot wars or a robotics team at work. Discuss the personality traits of the participants. As you read, compare these with Donovan’s robotics team as described in the novel.

  •  

    Discuss the significance of IQ scores. Do you think they accurately reflect a person’s gifts and talents? Are these scores useful? What important attributes do they not measure?

  •  In small groups, write a new misadventure for Donovan. Act it out, make a video and present it to your class. Submit a written script to your teacher.
  •  

    The main character blames genetics for his poor decision-making skills, resorting to a genealogy website to defend himself. Open a discussion on the pros and cons of using these sorts of sites to investigate your personal history.

  •  

    Make a list of notable expressions (and their page numbers) as you read. Choose one and find a creative way to remember it: with a rhyme, a rap, a choreography or an illustrated poster, for example.

  •  

    Choose an example of when Donovan gets in trouble at school. Embellish the problem and present it in comic strip format.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal Development
  • Physical Education and Health